HOPE Lab Research

We are a group of researchers who study ethical decision-making, broadly defined. Our work focuses primarily on honesty, opportunity, and prosociality as well as how people navigate ethical dilemmas that involve these values. Click on each topic to learn more about the research stream.

You can find the CVs and papers of each of our members on the PEOPLE page. Below, we highlight some of our recent work.


Many of our most common and difficult ethical dilemmas involve balancing honesty and benevolence. We routinely face this conflict in our personal lives, when deciding how to communicate with friends and family members, and in our professional lives, when deciding how to deliver difficult news and critical feedback. Honesty and benevolence also conflict during some of our most demanding and emotional ethical decisions. For example, when healthcare professionals communicate information to sick and elderly individuals, they must strike a delicate balance between providing hope and care, and communicating honestly. Using a variety of research methods, in both the laboratory and the field, we study how individuals navigate this tension. Our research unearths specific circumstances in which people welcome and appreciate deception, as well as circumstances in which they underestimate the benefits of honesty. We recently launched an interdisciplinary project on honesty-values conflicts, supported by the Honesty Project and the Templeton Foundation (read more about it here).

Recent Papers:

Jensen, S., Levine, E.E., White, M., Huppert, E. Lying is ethical, but honesty is the best policy: The desire to avoid harmful lies leads to moral preferences for unconditional honesty. Forthcoming at Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 

Cooper, B., Cohen, T. R., Huppert, E., Levine, E. E., & Fleeson, W. (2023) Honest Behavior: Truth-seeking, Belief-speaking, and Fostering-understanding. Forthcoming at Academy of Management Annals.

Huppert, E., Herzog, N., Landy, J., Levine, E.E. (2023). On being dishonest about dishonesty: The social costs of taking nuanced (but realistic) moral stances. Forthcoming at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Levine, E.E. (2022). Community standards of deception: Deception is perceived to be ethical when it prevents unnecessary harm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,151(2), 410–436.


We often select people for scarce opportunities, like college or a job, on the basis of what they have accomplished. However, these accomplishments have taken place under different circumstances, some advantageous and others not. In this area of research, we examine the difficult decisions and moral dilemmas that this reality presents, and test interventions that increase equality and equity in opportunities.

Recent Papers:

Munguia Gomez, D., Levine, E.E. (2022). The Policy-People Gap: Decision makers choose policies that would select different applicants than they select when making individual decisions. Academy of Management Journal65(3), 842-869.

Kirgios, E.L., Chang, E.H., Milkman, K.L. (2020). Going It Alone: Competition Increases the Attractiveness of Minority Status. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 161, 20-33.

Chang, E.H.*, Kirgios, E.L.*, Rai, A., Milkman, K.L. (2020). The Isolated Choice Effect and Its Implications for Gender Diversity in Organizations. Management Science, 66(6), 2752-2761. *denotes equal authorship

Chang, E.H., Kirgios, E.L., Smith, R.K. (2021). Large-Scale Field Experiment Shows Null Effects of Team Diversity on Others’ Willingness to Support the Team. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Kirgios, E.L., Rai, A., Chang, E.H., Milkman, K.L.  (2022). When Seeking Help, Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities Benefit  from Explicitly Stating Their Identity. Nature Human Behaviour.



How and why do people decide to help others? Who do they decide to help? And how do we judge others for these decisions? In this stream of research, we explore how people engage in and judge charitable giving, along with other forms of help and cooperation.

Recent Papers:

Kirgios, E.L., Chang, E.H., Levine, E.E., Milkman, K.L., Kessler, J.B. (2020). Forgoing Earned Incentives to Signal Pure Motives. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(29), 16891-16897.

Berman, J.Z., Barasch, A., Levine, E.E, & Small, D.A. (2018). Impediments to Effective Altruism: The Role of Subjective Preferences in Charitable Giving. Psychological Science, 29(5), 834-844.

Ethical dilemmas

Our broadest goal is to understand how people fundamentally resolve ethical dilemmas, in order to build theory and inform practice. We have written several papers about a broad class of ethical dilemmas (benevolence-integrity dilemmas) that are common in every-day life. Benevolence reflects the motivation to improve the welfare of an individual in need based on the specific situation the individual faces, whereas integrity reflects the motivation to adhere to universal principles in an impartial manner. Many dilemmas involving honesty and prosociality are specific instantiations of benevolence-integrity dilemmas. Outside of benevolence-integrity dilemmas, we have also explored dilemmas involving autonomy and paternalism in the domain of medicine.

Recent Papers:

Moore, A., Lewis, J., Levine, E.E., Schweitzer, M.E. (2023). Benevolent Friends and High-Integrity Leaders: How Preferences for Benevolence and Integrity Change Across Relationships. Forthcoming at Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Kassirer, S., Levine, E.E., Gaertig, C. (2020). Decisional autonomy undermines advisees’ judgments of experts in medicine and in life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(21), 11368-11378.

Moore, A.K., Munguia Gomez, D.M., & Levine, E.E. (2019). Everyday dilemmas: New directions on the judgment and resolution of benevolence-integrity dilemmas. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, e12472. 


Recent papers:

Wang, J., Chaudhry, S.J., & Koch, A. (forthcoming) “Reminders Undermine Impressions of Genuine Gratitude.” Journal of Personality  and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000442

Yu, J., & Chaudhry, S.J. (forthcoming) “‘Thanks, but no thanks’: Gratitude Expression Paradoxically Signals Distance,” Journal of Personality  and Social Psychology. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/pspi0000435 

Chaudhry, S.J. & Wald, K.A. (2022) “Overcoming listener skepticism: Costly signaling in communication increases perceived honesty,” Current Opinion in Psychology, 101442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101442

Chaudhry, S.J. & Loewenstein, G. (2019) “Thanking, apologizing, bragging, and blaming: Responsibility exchange theory and the currency of communication.” Psychological Review, 126(3), 313-344. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000139


Recent papers:

White, S., Schroeder, J. & Risen, J. L. (2021). When “enemies” become close: Predicting relationship formation among Palestinians and Jewish Israelis at a youth camp. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121, 76-94. [Download]

Hove, M. J., & Risen, J. L. (2009). It’s all in the timing: Interpersonal synchrony increases affiliation. Social Cognition, 27, 949-961. [Download]

Risen, J. L., & Gilovich, T. (2007). Target and observer differences in the acceptance of questionable apologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 418-433. [Download]


Recent papers:

Molnar, A., Chaudhry, S.J., & Loewenstein, G. (2023) “’It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message!’: Avengers Want Offenders to Understand the Reason for Revenge,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 174, 104207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2022.104207

Hobson, N. M., Schroeder, J., Risen, J. L., Xygalatas, D., & Inzlicht, M. (2018). The psychology of rituals: An integrative review and process-based framework, Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22, 260-284. [Download]

Risen, J. L. (2016). Believing what we don’t believe: Acquiescence to superstitious beliefs and other powerful intuitions. Psychological Review, 123, 183-207. [Download]

Risen, J. L., & Critcher, C. R. (2011). Visceral fit: While in a visceral state, associated states of the world seem more likely. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 777-793. [Download]

Risen, J. L., & Gilovich, T. (2008).  Why people are reluctant to tempt fate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 293-307. [Download]

Risen, J. L., & Gilovich, T., Dunning, D. (2007). One-shot illusory correlations and stereotype formation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1492-1502. [Download]

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